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"A Walk on the Brink"

A Solo Game of a Walk by Matthew Hartley

night of the shambling dead advent 01
Artwork by Nick Tearle*

In this years exclusive game you take on the role of a stranger to the Fens wandering home after perhaps one too many ales...

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“Some say no evil thing that walks by night, in fog or fire, by lake or moorish fen, Blue meagre hag, or stubborn unlaid ghost That breaks his magic chains at curfew time, No goblin, or swart fairy of the mine, Hath hurtful power o'er true virginity.”

John Milton (1859). “The Poems of John Milton”, p.98

"If any landscape can provide darkness, with a very real hint of menace, it is most surely the Fens"

Francis Pryor (2019). "The Fens", prologue p. 18

Introduction

The town of Wisbech, 'the capital of the fens' is a Fenland market town, inland port and civil parish in the Fens of the Isle of Ely. In his ‘Buildings of England’, Nikolaus Pevsner described the road that comprises the North Brink as one of finest Georgian brick streets of England. It has been the backdrop to several period dramas including Martin Chuzzlewit, David Copperfield and Dean Spanley. And beyond the Brink is the Fens, the drain dykes and the mist-shrouded paths...

A stranger in Wisbech, you are hale, hearty and of sound mind, if a little worse for a jar too many of the local Elgood’s Ale. Indeed, you pass the famous Georgian Brewery on the North Brink as you head south-west out of town to clear to head. You pass the Goatshed chapel, the moon is bright, the sky clear, and the path silver before you from Selene’s rays.

This is your journey.

Set up

The game requires a deck of cards. The player could make his own deck of 40 cards, made up of 4 suits (Strength, Courage, Wit and Fate) with the appropriate text drawn from the table below, or simply use an ordinary deck of cards without the court cards or jokers.

Ten cards are drawn from a well shuffled deck and placed face down in a row. Each card represents a separate event on your journey.

Cards

Card value Strength (Clubs) Courage (Hearts) Wit (Diamonds) Fate (Spades)
10 A poacher’s trap Black dog silhouetted by the moon A sign overturned A owl flies low along the dyke
9 A rotten stile A pair of red eyes in the mist A lonely tree A scarecrow (?), face down in a field.
8 Clouds across the moon A whispering voice over the fens A lost doll with no eyes A burned out car with doors hanging limp.
7 Briers over the path Hollow laughter behind you A bag of child’s clothes, soiled Lonely cottage, no roof and a light in the window
6 Sodden path Crying…stops Will o’ the wisp  in the mist Canada geese flying low overhead
5 A rising fen mist A scream cut short A witch bottle, corked Bats (?) swoop by.
4 Bank collapse Black Shuck walks beside you A path side camp fire, recently extinguished A life-size stuffed panther toy, abandoned
3 Freezing rain A stick-thin arm emerges from the field A dead hare, gutted An antique pair of pilot’s goggles on a post, lenses cracked.
2 Cruel wind A beam of light flashes out across the water High pitched singing and furious music A pile of shotgun shells, some unfired
1 Stagnant waters The sound of a weight dropping suddenly, and a creaking rope. A fairy ring visible by moon light A bench with a jar of withered flowers


The player then determines his relative ability in 3 characteristics – Strength, Courage and Wit. The player has 23 point to divided between these 3 characteristics. No characteristic can have a starting value below 5 or greater than 9.

Playing the Game

Cards are resolved in turn from left to right.

The cards suit indicates which characteristic the player must test against.

If the player faces a Fate card, he may choose which characteristic to test against.

A player may choose to test against a different characteristic than that on the card, however once the test is resolved and after any effects have been applied, the characteristic tested against is reduced by 1 point.

To make a test, a player rolls 2 d6 dice and compares the result to his characteristic value, a score equal to or below the characteristic value is a success:

Score Effect
Score lower than Characteristic value and a natural double (two 1s, two 2s, etc.) Success. Move to next card and increase the value of the tested characteristic by 1
Score lower than characteristic value Success. Move to next card.
Score higher than characteristic value Failure. Move to next card and decrease the value of the tested characteristic by 1
Score higher than Characteristic value and a natural double (two 1s, two 2s, etc.) Failure. Move to next card and decrease the value of the tested characteristic by 2

 
At Journey’s End.

After the last card is resolved, the player should compare his remaining score for each characteristic to determine how the walk has effected them.

Value Strength Courage Wit
7+ Hale Hearty Bright
6 Tired Anxious Muddled
5 Wavering Unnerved Baffled
4 Diminished Affrighted Dulled
3 Enfeebled Panicked Bewildered
2 Fading Ashen Mystified
1 Elf-shot Hag-ridden Bewitched
0 Palsied Catatonic Fairy-touched

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Webmaster's Notes

An Orcs in the Webbe Original! This stand alone game was written exclusively for Orcs in the Webbe and was first published on the 1st December 2020 as part of its 2020 Advent Calendar.

* Note that the artwork has been used without permission and will be removed if requested by the copyright holder.

You can see all the previous stand alone games that have been written exclusively for Orcs in the Webbe by clicking on the   maroon tag   just below and to the left.

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